“While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.
He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24: 36 -50, NIV
Sometimes its good to go over the basic part of our faith. We get so wrapped up in arguments, or we look so hard for a way to justify our particular position on a matter that we forget the most obvious truths. For instance, I’ve had people tell me that they never read the Old Testament because it does not matter, or that they don’t believe what the was taught by the prophets because Jesus abolished all of that stuff. But that’s just not true if you listen to what Jesus says right here in this passage! This passage obliterates so many ideas that cults or pseudo Christian groups espouse.
So let me go over a few points here that we simply cannot deny if we hold the Lucan account of Jesus’ words to be authentic:
Jesus knew that they would be scared when they saw Him, so He began by telling them to calm down. I think He was gentle here, not harsh. This was the first time something like this had occurred—-He’s an eternal being, and these boys were mere teenagers or very young adults. But there’s a connection between Him telling them to “be at peace” and “why do doubts rise in your mind?”. It was doubts about who He is and who God is that steal our peace still today. We’re not sure if we can trust Him, if He’s telling the truth, if His promises are rock solid—-so we become troubled, anxious and doubt God. The source of an unhappy life is a lack of belief in God’s providential love for you, and the source of peace is to trust in Him. Do you trust in Him? Then you have peace. Jesus said: “Let not your hearts be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me.”
The next thing is important as well. He challenged them to touch Him. Flesh and bones. Jehovah Witnesses deny the physical resurrection of Jesus—-as do other sects. But they are clearly in error. Others talk about our place in heaven as being non-physical, but read the Word. Jesus was resurrected as we will be one day be resurrected. He had a body, was recognizable and to make the point crystal clear, He ate physical food. He knew the other groups in the future would suggest in a dualistic existence of mankind, or that folks like the gnostics would talk about the evil of the material, or physical world. But Jesus dispels all of this right here. HE had a physical body—-and yet knew no sin. So a body, or “material existence”, cannot be evil since Jesus was perfect and without sin. He ate a piece of fish to show what a resurrected man would do—-we will eat and drink, have bodies that on a perfected plateau that resemble our own and will live eternally. You might not like that, but that’s what Jesus proved here.
Then He added something else quite profound. He recognized the authenticity of the books of the Old Testament as being divine words of God. Now remember, when Jesus said these things there was NOT a New Testament—-only the 39 books of the Old Testament. To make it what was canonical, Jesus said, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” That is, the Old Testament!
This is important to me—-and I hope to you. Moses wrote about Jesus! David wrote about Jesus! The prophets wrote about Jesus! This is the reason for the Old Testament—-to give testimony and validation of the Messiah—-Jesus Christ. Have you read it? It’s incredible to see the many prophecies and allegories about Jesus Christ are in the OT as you read the books of Moses, David and the prophets——a “scarlet thread” throughout the Bible.
4. But then, “He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
Now He said quite a mouthful. This is why people hung on every word He said. Jesus did not blab or waste words—-He spoke precisely—-and so should we—-especially those of us called to preach!
Think about these four things He said in the two sentences:
a. The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day. Jesus did this! That’s why we are here today. But the Old Testament foretold His coming hundreds of times.This is why we should study the OT and preach from it! Noah was an example of this, Jonah represented this, Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac illustrated this——it all pointed to the Messiah being offered up one day as God’s gift for humanity’s sin.
b. What is required of man, according to Jesus, is “repentance for the forgiveness of sins..” I wonder if we talk about this enough. I have been in a fight with a friend about “repenting” for sins. He disagrees on the need to repent for something he says he can’t help, or some inclination with which someone else is born. The liberal argument is that genetics, our environment, and even our pre-natal nutrition determine much about our choices as young adults and adults later in life, and therefore there’s nothing to repent about——it’s “how God made us.”
But of course it’s not “how God made us”. God created man perfectly in His image. That perfect image was shattered with the fall of man in the garden of Eden—-as recorded by Moses. My ungodly habits, lazy excuses, morbid outlook on life and all my perversions of what real men were supposed to be, have nothing to do with, “that’s how God made me canard.” Sin made me bent, or opposed to what is right—-not God. That’s the challenge of bringing people today to repentance! They see no need to repent and blame God for all that’s gone wrong in the world! They are yelling at the Almighty, “It’s your fault, you fix it!” And He did—-even though it was not His fault, He sent Jesus Christ to be the offering for sin——just like He called Abraham to offer Isaac—-an innocent boy—as a sacrifice for the sins of others. And then caused His Son to be removed from the world for three days—-just as Jonah was removed and held bond in the belly of a fish for three days.
But be clear about this: Forgiveness of sins is not merely having remorse, or simply to acknowledge the fact that you’ve done wrong; Jesus says that it requires repentance, and that’s not preached, my friends. Repentance happens when God opens your eyes to your accountability and responsibly, and you beat your breast and mutter, “Forgive me, a sinner….”….and really mean it. This is what David talked about in the Psalms that Jesus referenced earlier. The Messiah came to redeem mankind—-to be sure! But prior to that restoration we’ve got to come to a place where we can acknowledge, just like like David did: (Psalm 51, paraphrased)
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions….Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
That is repentance! This is the prayer God hears—- every single time! It came from the heart of David. You might not be as eloquent as David, but have you offered God such repentance? Have you truly turned away from sin and given up on excuses and whining about unfair life has been to you?
Repent! Not because the things you are doing do not give you pleasure——sin and rebellion gives us incredible pleasure! Repent because those things do not give HIM pleasure! And then trust Him to restore your heart and mind to seek things that are incredibly more pleasurable than those things you gave up.
The One that designs us desires to bless us, restore us to the purity of mind and body and bestow upon us the satisfaction and joy that those banal pleasures of the world can never touch.
The question remains: Do you trust Him to do this? Be at peace—-trust Him.